Sunday, May 22, 2005

Burned Waffles

While I was in Seattle, Boston Globe columnist Joan Vennochi assessed the Massachusetts Democratic Party's formal incorporation of a same-sex-marriage plank in its new platform. (Unfortunately, you need to be a subscriber or pay to read the Globe link here.)

She mused on how badly John Kerry got burned in the last presidential election by seeming to change his opinions on major issues. In this case, the conviction shown by the Democrats raises such questions as:
  • Do voters really want a firm position or was that just an excuse?
  • Will the fear of same-sex marriages alienate more voters than the honesty and humanity of the plank?
  • Will stating a strong position attract voters who are undecided about the issue?
  • Is a controversial position a liability
Vennochi writes:
However, there is risk in this gay marriage resolution, in Massachusetts, too. Advocates argue same-sex marriage is a pressing civil rights issue. But is it really the most pressing issue in this state? Even people who support same-sex marriage may conclude that with this emphasis, the Democratic Party is losing its focus on economic issues that win elections. In that case, the party nomination could be worthless, especially if the nominee is viewed by the general electorate as a pawn of one special interest group.

For those who watch politics, it is an interesting laboratory test case of conviction versus expediency, of boldly pushing left rather than safely hugging the middle. In a party filled with equivocators on controversial social issues, the liberal Democrats who run the party here are taking a liberal position and sticking with it, without apology and without regard for those who call them out of touch and worse.
Then again, it may work in Massachusetts. That could be more from the obvious that it has become a less powerful issue. We've had same-sex marriages for a year. Thousands have benefited directly and no one has been harmed. What's the problem and why is it even an issue?

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